The role of aggressive ball of energy has certainly been filled thanks to Jae’Sean Tate. The freshman out of Pickerington Central has led the reserves in minutes with 40 through two games and is the second leading rebounder with 10. His willingness to do a little bit of everything is what has set him apart.
“He’s one of those guys that whatever we need him to do, he is going to attempt to do to help us,” Matta said. “I think with his athleticism, with his strength, with his toughness there’s a lot of components with that that he brings.
“He had a turnover (against Marquette) where he was supposed to be somewhere else, and right after it happened he looked at me and said, ‘I wasn’t supposed to be there.’ With all the physical attributes he’s starting to put the mental side to it, which I love.”
Tate, a four-star prospect coming out of high school according to Scout.com, is listed at just 6-4, but has the strength and aggression necessary to crash the boards and is comfortable sliding into the power forward position, at least nominally, in smaller lineups.
Prior to the season point guard Shannon Scott said that Tate is the type of player that you love to have on your team but can’t stand to play against because of his tenacity on defense and the physicality that he brings to the game. Forward Sam Thompson agreed, saying that the versatile first-year player gives the Buckeyes a spark.
“He brings that aggressive mindset, that toughness, just get it done by any means,” Thompson said, “If you ask him to play the wing, if he’s playing the four, whether he’s scoring the ball, rebounding the ball or defending, he’s going to give it everything he has on the court for the time he’s out on the court. That’s huge for us, that helps us set the tone and we really feed off his energy.”
Those attributes add up to the prototypical “glue-guy” coaches are looking for, a player willing to do anything that is asked of him and not worry about filling the stat sheet. Matta said Tate reminds him in some ways of David Lighty during his freshman season.
“I’ve said that from watching Jae’Sean at an early age when we first starting recruiting him,” the coach said. “I hope he becomes David Lighty. With that said, I think that is a tremendous complement to Jae’Sean two games into his college career that they would throw that in (comparison) there. Right now at this junction Jae’Sean may be a little more offensive. I think Jae’Sean is going to be a heck of payer for us.”